Review: A Desperate Arrangement — by mikkimouse

Other Reviewers: Goodreads

Fan-Fiction.  It has become something that I read 75% of the time now.  I keep going back to my Goodreads list of to-reads and no of my published books look interesting enough to spend money on.  Maybe I am getting burned out.

So, I have been checking out Archive of Our Own, checking out my favorite worlds:  Sterek, Larry, and Drarry.  I found a historical royalty AU for Sterek and it looked very interesting, it is always great when we get to see our characters in a new setting (and actual plot).  For some other Sterek fan-fiction recommendations see this review.

Basic Plot:

The kingdoms of McCall, Hale, and Argent are in a battle for control and land.  The tentative treaties are not holding and war is imminent.  Now there is a possible treaty between McCall and  Hale — the solution?  Marriage between Stiles and Derek.  But can this loveless marriage truly be happy and can it stop war?

Stiles Stilinski:

The personality of Stiles is consistent with the character on the TV show.  Stiles love his father and his brother (actual brother in this universe), Scott.  Stiles is the illegitimate brother of King Scott and acts as his advisor and magician.

The reminder stung, and Stiles bit his lip and turned away.  He and Scott had been not-so-subtly playing matchmaker ever since Queen Melissa’s official mourning period had ended, and Stiles didn’t want to take that chance at happiness away from Scott’s mother or his own father.  But… “So you’d ask me to be trapped in a marriage instead?”

Scott had the decency to look a little guilty.  “I know what I’m asking, ” he said, “and I swear I wouldn’t be asking it if I didn’t think you’d be at least content in the end.”

So we see Stiles sacrificing his own personal happiness for the good of the country.  This action demonstrates his sense of duty and integrity.

Derek Hale:

Derek’s character has alway been a complex one.  In A Desperate Arrangement,  Derek is the second son who already had a horrific engagement to Kate Argent which ended with Derek’s father’s death.  The guilt has beaten down Derek so much that he is a shell of the man he was before.  It certainly does not help that his brother, the King is a big ‘ol A-HOLE that I want to beat silly.  But to Derek, pack is everything and he is willing to destroy his life (based on his experience in the previous betrothal) to save his country.

Now, he rested in the corner of the courtyard after a grueling training session, doing his best to burn off excess energy and get his mind off everything.  Like his father, who would be scarcely three months dead when Derek was married.  Or the getting married, which reminded him of the rules Stiles had set down.  Or Stiles himself, whom Derek had done an equality good job of avoiding because he didn’t trust himself to be around his betrothed for five minutes without attempting something abominably stupid, like tracing the outline of those blue tattoos with his tongue.

I feel badly on how Derek has been treated, like an asset to be used, even by his family.  You get the feeling of how trapped he feels, which is even more powerful due to the werewolf nature.  The author does an excellent job of describing the inner animal and his PTSD reactions.

Theme Summary:

A simple theme of “Don’t judge a book by the cover” could be applied here.  Stiles is a bastard son, but he is loved and deeply valued member of the court and family.  He is easily discounted, but his verbal acuity has made him an asset.  On the same hand, Derek is a fierce warrior who has a sensitive soul that only wants to be of value to his family and country.  His sensitivity is also hidden, and his relationship with Stiles brings that to the surface as he heals.

Strong Points:

The world building in A Desperate Arrangement had me turning the page to learn more.  I loved how the author turned the Teen Wolf tension and character profiles and made it into an alternate world.  The author did a great job of describing the action scenes:

Derek immediately went on the defensive, but the captain seemed to know how to turn each parry into another attack.  If Derek pinned the staff to the ground, the captain slid forward to kick Derek’s knee.  If he knocked the staff to one side, the captain rolled it across his back and came at him from the other.  And when Derek aimed his staff at the captain’s legs, trying to knock him off-balance, the captain slammed his staff into the ground and used the momentum to swing himself around and kick Derek in the hip

I also enjoyed the chemistry between Stiles and Derek and their dialogue.

What could be better?

The only improvement I would suggest is that the mystery/adventure plot was to be expected and was tropey.  To be fair, this is due to the fact that all of the characters are from the TV show, so we can expect certain people to behave in the way that they did.  It did not dampen my enjoyment of the story, but I could see that if it was not so much fan-fiction the author would have had room to create more original side characters.

Conclusions:

Overall, I enjoyed the book, it was different that many of the other Sterek fan-fiction out there.  I will certain keep this author in mind for other works.

 

Bea

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